We are excited to introduce the community to The Public Square. The Public Square is a collaborative effort of Cape Fear Community College, University of North Carolina—Wilmington, and Cape Fear Realtors. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo is also a supporter of the process and has assisted with development of the program. The purpose is to educate the public on important and sometimes divisive issues, while building the bonds of community as we model civility. It also adds to the quality of life by providing local citizens the chance to interact with national speakers and opinion leaders.
 The first forum took place at the Wilson Center on Tuesday, October 17 at 7:00pm and ended at 8:30pm. The discussion topic was “To Drill or Not To Drill” featuring Jacques Cousteau’s son, Jean-Michel Cousteau, and former President of Shell Oil Company John Hofmeister.
 Each presenter provided a different perspective about whether drilling for oil should take place off the coast of North Carolina, followed by a question and answer period with the audience. Keep in mind, none of the hosting organizations have taken a stance on this issue.

CIVILITY         COMMUNITY        EDUCATION

EDUCATION Nelson Mandela told us that, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” So, how do we educate with so much divisiveness in public discourse? It’s simple. We cannot. Respect is the bridge that allows us to educate because none of us begin in the same place, nor do we end up at necessarily the same endpoint. UNCW, and I think I can speak for Dr. Lee, CFCC are united when we say that open discussion, is critical to learning for both students and a community. We support The Public Square, not because we need another forum, or because we want to hear a particular speaker. We agreed to Co-Host the forum because we see it as a way to foster critical thinking. Critical thinking paves the way to education. When we listen to other viewpoints, a couple of things occur. First, we learn about other opinions, which when articulated well, helps us to understand another person’s point of view. This better understanding broadens our perspective, which leads to empathy, and yes, to education. Chancellor Sartarelli UNCW
COMMUNITY The Public Square has grown from need for more respect in the public arena. It is the most American of all our qualities. It has been a cornerstone of who we are since the Revolutionary War when citizens gathered at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to learn about and discuss, issues of the day. When present, respect allows us to understand our differences, while we focus on commonalities. It is of great importance for us to remember then even when Democrats disagree with Republicans, there is much more on which we agree, and that is what binds us together. “Common” is the root of community and we are hopeful that liberals, conservatives, independents, students, businesspeople, retirees, and all who are part of this neighborhood we call the Cape Fear Region, will turn out on October 17th for a robust discussion about our future. We may not all agree, but we can all show respect for each other, and avoid name calling and bottle throwing, which add nothing to the conversation. Mayor Bill Saffo
 CIVILITY When I think of a public square, it brings me back to America’s early years. I visualize a wooden box in the middle of a small town, upon which citizens step to voice a public opinion. Americans understood it then, as we understand it today. Without civility—that is respect for others with whom we disagree—we cannot have liberty, nor can we have independence, nor good governance. Without civility, we instead have divisiveness, alienation, political mischief, separation, and demagoguery. Sound familiar? When the Realtors® first approached me about this concept last year, I immediately saw how The Public Square could help us reshape local dialogue. Think about it, hundreds of people, gathered together in this beautiful new meeting place—the Wilson Center—sitting side by side with those with whom they disagree. Whether your political color is red, blue, pink, green, or purple. No matter your age, race or religion, there needs to be a place we can, together, civilly learn about issues that face us as a community. We used to look to the national media for balance and information. That well seems to have dried up. While the Internet may be a source of information, it is not always well informed or even handed. What we lack is access to unfiltered experts. Thus, The Public Square. We encourage all to attend this first attempt at creating a forum that can help us discuss issues of importance, while we model civility to students and the community at large. Please come. Please attend. Please engage. This is for all of us.  Dr. Amanda Lee CFCC
Cape Fear REALTORS® Four years ago, Cape Fear Realtors® began ramping up community involvement to further invest in the coastal region. As the largest professional organization in the eastern half of the state, we have a responsibility to 2,400 dues paying members, and the tens of thousands of homeowners we represent, to actively engage in the community conversation. We also see that by adding a forum, featuring national speakers, enhances the quality of life locally. We’ve watched as political tribalism has taken hold of the public discussion. The Public Square is our collaborative effort to turn the tide, beginning locally, to build respect. Neal Johnson, 2017 CFR President
UNDERWRITER Civility. That single word is of critical importance to democracy. For four years, Cape Fear Realtors® has been working to build common ground in the community. We are excited to unveil a new forum that will build community, while educating the public through civil discourse. We hope your company will help by underwriting and promoting this important event at a time when we need to make extra efforts to work together. Review the Underwriter Package and let us know if you have any questions by calling Shane at 910-762-1695.
The Public Square – Work Group Tom Gale, Realtor® Shane Fernando, CFCC Bradley Ballou, UNCW Shane Johnson, CFR Have a suggestion for a future forum, speakers or issue? Send an email to Shane Johnson at shane@capefear.realtor or to Tom Gale at tom@teamgale.net

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